Let’s face it, some of us can be wine snobs. But when it’s warm outside, we tend to be a little less judgmental when it comes to sampling new varietals. When we approach wine with an open mind, we invite a world of taste and sensory experiences into our lives. I encourage you to go outside of your wine comfort zone next time you purchase a bottle, you never know, you may just find a new favorite.
This Summer I’m taking the chance to get to know 5 Chefs from across Toronto and having food and wine conversations while enjoying some Aveleda wine. Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal is a refreshing, light and crisp wine that is perfect for sipping on a patio and can be paired with all kinds of great summer fare.
During this outing, I sit down with Chef Coulson Armstrong from Canoe and we discuss what he loves about Aveleda and what he would pair with it. A proud fifth generation Canadian, Chef Coulson excels in creating dishes that are true to his roots. Recipient of Top 30 Under 30 honours and a Gold Medal Plate competitor, he’s risen quickly throughout the culinary world. Making his way from Humber College to Auberge du Pommier and finally to Canoe, this Chef is one to keep an eye on.
Angela Aiello: What’s your favourite place to sip on a refreshing glass of white wine like Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal?
Chef Coulson Armstrong: I love picnics, on days off I’ll bike to Toronto Island and set up a little charcoal pit. The Aveleda Vinho Verde has a perfect amount of sugar to make it easy drinking on a summer day.
AA: Who most inspires you in your cooking philosophy?
CA: I feel my inspiration comes from market trips on the weekend, spending days off at the farm and cooking for the farmers. It’s a very grounding experience to cook for someone that puts so much effort into the products we cook with every day.
AA: What is the most challenging thing about being a chef?
CA: Balance between being creative, staying healthy and family time. There’s a thin line to balancing all the important stuff outside of the kitchen. Lots of sacrifices have to be made for others that support you and your career. Giving back to those people and yourself is super important.
AA: What do you love most about the Toronto culinary scene?
CA: The community of support— Toronto is becoming a globally recognized city for culinary. We can only get there with everyone supporting restaurants and then the restaurants giving back to the community as well.
AA: When you were thinking about a dish to pair with Aveleda Vinho Verde from Portugal what kind of ideas came to mind?
CA: First thing I thought of was seafood, it’s such a classic paring. The Vinho Verde reminded me of a great Canadian riesling. Both wines would pair perfectly with the spicy charred octopus.
AA: What did you think about this wine/these wines? Any recommendations you would like to share with us?
CA: I thought both were very easy drinking, amazing for a Sunday afternoon on a patio. The Vinho Verde was my favorite though.
AA: Can you explain your dish and why it pairs with Aveleda?
CA: My dish is charred BC octopus, with cornmeal crusted skate wine, served with fingerling potatoes and spicy mayo. The wine goes great with seafood and the spicy mayo will balance perfectly with the young white wine.
Charred BC Octopus and Crispy Polenta
2-pound whole octopus
2 liters of white wine
50 g peppercorns
1 head of garlic
4 liters of water
30g kosher salt
In a large pot, place the octopus along with the wine, peppercorns, 1 lemon cut in half, cork, and garlic. Cover with water by 1 inch and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook the octopus until it is tender when pierced with a sharp knife. (Anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes.)
Let cool, and then slice into 2-inch pieces. Brush with olive oil and char on bbq on high heat until nice and charred.
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound quick-cooking polenta (2 2/3 cups)
4 ounces soft goat cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add salt and slowly add polenta, in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Continue whisking until thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cheeses and butter. Let cool, cut into squares and pan fry until golden brown .
Serve with charred summer vegetable. Asparagus, fennel, zucchini